Traditional crafts are endangered. The attention focused on craft today attests that we recognize this fact. Artisans struggle to earn wages that may not even equal those of manual labour. The social status of the artisan is still sadly low. Moreover, the social mobility of artisans is limited by chronically low levels of education; and the perceived irrelevance of the education available perpetuates the status quo.
A spectrum of Government offices, programmes and schemes, as well as non-government organizations are trying many ways to save traditional crafts. There are various forms of subsidy, bazaars and melas organized for marketing, Master Craftsman and Shilp Guru awards, and seminars to raise awareness and respect.
But the fact is the Shilp Gurus, those craftspersons most highly honored, are still asking for the most shockingly basic facilities- a place to work, a railway pass, free admission into museums- to see their own heritage! And they protest that in the committee to select Master Crafts persons, there is not a single artisan.
Something is not working. To foster genuine sustainability, to restore the vitality of traditional craft, these issues must be addressed by artisans themselves. To enable this, we must address the most pressing need in India today: relevant education for rural people.
Traditional crafts existed integrated into local social systems. Some crafts, typically those done by men, such as block printing, hand weaving and pottery, were professional. Others, typically...
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